Faculty and Staff

Mathematics professor Petra Menz named SFU's 2017 healthy campus champion

January 16, 2018

Mathematics professor Petra Menz has received SFU’s 2017 Champion for a Healthy Campus Community award for the remarkable impact her teaching methods have on student well-being.

Each year, the university recognizes a person, group or program that has made an outstanding contribution to student well-being.

Menz’s teaching approach aims to foster meaningful social connections with and between her students, creating a positive learning environment that cultivates students’ self-esteem, resilience and engagement. She invites students to meet with her individually and in small groups so that she can get to know them, understand their needs, and support their success.

“Because of this personal connection that I create, students become bigger risk takers,” says Menz. “They learn that it’s okay if they are wrong in the classroom, and they are more engaged in the discussions because they know each other.”

Indeed, research has revealed that creating connections in the learning environment not only boosts students’ well-being but also their academic performance.

“I think Petra’s one-on-one meetings really helped me be more confident,” says student Diamond Huynh. “She totally believed in me. I told her straight up that I was very scared in the course because I’m not strong in math but she made sure that I really believed in myself.”

Says another student, Hassan Ahmed, “The French would say, ‘students are not a vase that you fill, they are a fire that you set alight’ and this is what Petra has done. She made this connection; she stimulates you and gets the best out of you.”

SFU’s Health Promotion Team and the Teaching and Learning Centre are collaborating on a Wellbeing in Learning Environments project that supports teaching staff with evidenced-based strategies for fostering well-being in classrooms and lecture halls. 

The Well-being in Learning Environments project is part of SFU’s progressive Healthy Campus Community Initiative. It aligns with the internationally recognized, and SFU-adopted, Okanagan Charter for Health-Promoting Universities and Colleges. 


Who will be the 2018 Champion for a Healthy Campus Community?

Do you know a person, group or program that is making an outstanding contribution to the health and well-being of the SFU community?
Submit your nomination today.